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Garner, Alan

adults novels books readers

(British, 1934– )

Garner is quoted as saying that his novels resemble onions. In other words, his work has many layers: a topmost narrative layer, which is the obviously visible story, to be enjoyed by young readers; within that, networks of imagery, and at the core a deep structure put together with meticulous intelligence. All of this should not put readers off. His early novels, such as Elidor (1965) and in particular the masterly The Owl Service (1967), which won the Carnegie Medal in 1968, are very exciting, and just as page-turning as many much easier books. Red Shift (1973) with its timeshifts and elliptical language, and The Stone Book Quartet (1976, 1977, 1978), with its poetic elegance and symbolic weight, are harder to dash through, but they amply reward the careful reader, particularly on a second reading. Garner is one of a handful of writers for young adults who assumes (quite rightly) that there are teenagers out there who are formidably intelligent and eager for books that stretch their minds and imaginations. His novel for adults, Strandloper (1997), moves from Cheshire to Australia and deals with myths and history.

Russell Hoban, Philip Pullman, Ursula Le Guin. See FANTASY, TEEN  AG

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